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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Managing diabetes with BlueStar: No more metal can go in there

LuAnn Stottlemyer’s story:
In 1993, I’d gone to get new glasses and have my eyes examined.  The doctor asked me how long I’d had diabetes.  I don’t have it, I said.  He said, You should get a primary care doctor and get some blood work done.  

I did, and two weeks later I got a call at my office saying I had Type 2 diabetes.  We tried to manage it with Glucotrol and whatever drugs there were available then.  I wasn’t dedicated to checking my glucose like I should have been.  My mother and grandmother both had Type 2 diabetes.  You’d think it might skip you and go to the next person.

My A1c [a measure of the blood sugar level] got up to 10.3. That scared me!  I tried to watch it for a few months, thinking I could manage it on my own.  But I wasn’t really eating like I should, and wasn’t testing my glucose like I should.  

In 1997, I had two stents put in, and one in 2014.  In June 2015, I had an emergency when they realized my heart artery was 99% blocked, so they put in two more stents.  That’s all that can go in there, the doctor told me; no more metal can go in there.  He said next time, we’ll be shipping you to Baltimore for bypass surgery.  Now I have five stents in my left anterior [front] descending (LAD) heart artery, which they call the “widow maker.”   I have circulation problems, and I’ve had glaucoma and cataract surgery.

I had a log book to track my blood sugars and what I ate.  But then that book would lay there for days without me testing my glucose.  It wasn’t with me all the time; I didn’t take it to work, or to restaurants.  

In January 2016, I’d gotten my A1c down to 9.3.  They said they have something called BlueStar, and asked if I wanted to try it.  I said I’d give it a shot.  When I saw that app, a light bulb went off!  I still get emotional when I think about it.

I like that the app keeps me accountable.  I used to say I’d eat right, but it didn’t work.  

Now, when I get up in the morning, I have something that talks to me and says, “Eat your breakfast.”  It’s almost like a companion to me.  If I put in a number that’s low, 70 or so, that app will say, “It’s time to eat 15 grams of carbohydrates.”  It sets a 15-minute time on my phone to remind me to recheck by blood glucose.  I’m amazed that someone made a program that can track that, and even if I’m busy, to tell me to check my sugar.  That means a lot to me!  I wish I had this back in 1993 when I was first diagnosed with diabetes.

BlueStar has become part of my life.  It keeps me accountable.  I look at my grandkids and wonder if they’ll get to know me.  I’ve made up my mind that they will.  Through this app and God’s help, I’ve determined that I’ll live a lot longer.  

Instead of the log book, I just key the information into my phone.  People just think I’m texting or something.  

I’ve gone from not being able to go to the market for the last year and a half or two years, since I couldn’t walk, and my energy level was terrible.  Now I can.  I told my boss at work I was so excited that I could go to the market now!  She looked at me with tears in her eyes.  I didn’t realize it took that much of your life.  Now I can walk from my car into work, and on some days I can walk clear from the parking lot to my desk without even stopping!  I’m amazed at the difference in my life.  My grandkids are, too.  They’re seven and nine years old.  Now I can go bowling with them.  

Now I have a FitBit, too.  It can be synced to my BlueStar app, so I can track my steps.  I can also use BlueStar to watch videos of how people do different things to manage their diabetes.  

My primary care doctor asked me how other patients can get ahold of BlueStar, because she has seen my A1c come down.

Janice McLeod’s comment:

I’m the WellDoc Director of Clinical Innovation for BlueStar, which is an app that was cleared by the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to provide personalized coaching and support 24x7 via people’s smartphones.  BlueStar allows patients to share their data with their healthcare team, so they can best partner together to improve diabetes care. We recently studied its use in a small study conducted in a patient-centered medical home for which BlueStar provided real-time coaching and guidance on a daily basis, with coaching about once a month from lay person health coaches. Preliminary results showed a 1.7-point reduction in A1C from baseline of 9.7%. That’s primarily from two factors:  having an engaged patient and regularly informing the healthcare team.  

Thanks to Juliette Bogus of PressComm Public Relations for arranging the interviews.  Read another diabetes coaching story.

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